Thy Servant, A Dog, by Rudyard Kipling

The Supplication of the Black Aberdeen

I PRAY! My little body and whole span Of years is Thine, my Owner and my Man. For Thou hast made me — unto Thee I owe This dim, distressed half-soul that hurts me so, Compact of every crime, but, none the less, Broken by knowledge of its naughtiness. Put me not from Thy Life —’tis all I know. If Thou forsake me, whither shall I go?

Thine is the Voice with which my Day begins: Thy Foot my refuge, even in my sins. Thine Honour hurls me forth to testify Against the Unclean and Wicked passing by. (But when Thou callest they are of Thy Friends, Who readier than I to make amends?) I was Thy Deputy with high and low — If Thou dismiss me, whither shall I go?

I have been driven forth on gross offence That took no reckoning of my penitence, And, in my desolation — faithless me! — Have crept for comfort to a woman’s knee! Now I return, self-drawn, to meet the just Reward of Riot, Theft and Breach of Trust. Put me not from Thy Life — though this is so. If Thou forsake me, whither shall I go?

Into The Presence, flattening while I crawl — From head to tail, I do confess it all. Mine was the fault — deal me the stripes — but spare The Pointed Finger which I cannot bear! The Dreadful Tone in which my Name is named, That sends me ‘neath the sofa-frill ashamed! (Yet, to be near Thee, I would face that woe.) If Thou reject me, whither shall I go?

Can a gift turn Thee? I will bring mine all — My Secret Bone, my Throwing–Stick, my Ball. Or wouldst Thou sport? Then watch me hunt awhile, Chasing, not after conies, but Thy Smile, Content, as breathless on the turf I sit, Thou shouldst deride my little legs and wit — Ah! Keep me in Thy Life for a fool’s show! If Thou deny me, whither shall I go! . . .

Is the Dark gone? The Light of Eyes restored? The Countenance turned meward, O my Lord? The Paw accepted, and — for all to see — The Abject Sinner throned upon the Knee? The Ears bewrung, and Muzzle scratched because He is forgiven, and All is as It was? Now am I in Thy Life, and since ’tis so — That Cat awaits the Judgment. May I go?

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38